Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: The tragic tale of a dog who saved soldiers

By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent Target, one of three stray dogs who battled a suicide bomber, keeping him from entering an Army barracks in Afghanistan and ultimately saving the lives of the 50 soldiers inside, met an unjust and sad end this week. The heroic Target, who got her name because, according ...

561726_101119_target2.jpg
561726_101119_target2.jpg

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

Target, one of three stray dogs who battled a suicide bomber, keeping him from entering an Army barracks in Afghanistan and ultimately saving the lives of the 50 soldiers inside, met an unjust and sad end this week.

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

Target, one of three stray dogs who battled a suicide bomber, keeping him from entering an Army barracks in Afghanistan and ultimately saving the lives of the 50 soldiers inside, met an unjust and sad end this week.

The heroic Target, who got her name because, according to one soldier, local Afghans made sport of trying to “off her” (she was shot in the shoulder and even run over by a car), was picked up last week by animal control and brought to the Pinal County Animal Care and Control Shelter in Arizona where she was euthanized by mistake.

Ironically, Target was hardly a stray when she was brought to the shelter. This summer, Target had been safely delivered from Afghanistan to her adoptive family, that of Sgt. Terry Young, one of the soldiers she’d saved.

The outpouring of response to the news about Target has been tremendous. (A quick Google search shows over 400 articles in only three days time.) As has the outcry of support for the Youngs and anger toward the shelter. The employee responsible who failed to follow standard procedure and snuffed the dog too quickly has been suspended. A full investigation is expected.

Sgt. Young and his family are devastated. He told the New York Times:

“My 4-year-old keeps saying: ‘Daddy, bring Target home. Daddy, get the poison out,’ ” Sergeant Young, a father of three, said in a telephone interview, his voice choking with emotion. “Obviously, at first there was extreme anger and horror. Now that a couple of days have passed, the anger has been replaced by sorrow.”

Perhaps it’s little consolation at the heartbreaking end of an otherwise happy story, but here’s one detail that doesn’t appear to have been widely reported:

Target was pregnant when she helped thwart the suicide bomber by attacking him. She had her litter of puppies in Afghanistan [and they’ve] since been brought to the United States.

A candlelight vigil in Target’s honor is scheduled for Dec. 3.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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